JOSHUA - CHAPTER 2
Bible Study - Commentary by Jim Melough
2000 James Melough
"And Joshua the son of Nun sent out of Shittim two men to spy secretly,
saying, Go view the land, even Jericho. And
they went, and came into an harlot's house, named Rahab, and lodged there."
Having set before us in
chapter 1 the necessity of obedience
on the part of those who
would enjoy the spiritual blessings portrayed by the milk and honey of Canaan, God
now presents in symbolic language the means by which those blessings were first
secured for us. In the context of this
chapter therefore, Joshua represents, not the Lord Jesus Christ, but the Father Who
sent His Son into the world to die for the remission of men's sins so that they might
be fitted to inherit eternal blessings.
Here Christ is portrayed
by the two men sent to reconnoiter the land. There
being two of them reminds us that the Christ Who came into the world was the second
Person of the Godhead. He was God the
Son, but in assuming humanity He combined in Himself two natures: one human, the
other divine, the human being no less perfect than the divine.
He was perfect Man, and at the same time perfect God.
But two is the Biblical number of witness or testimony, so that there being
two of them declares that Christ came into the world as the Witness to man's need of
a Savior, and of God's love in being willing to provide that Savior in the Person of
His own Son.
Shittim means acacias,
trees notoriously thorny; but trees are Biblical symbols of men, so that the acacia
represents man as an utterly sinful creature. Joshua's
sending the two men out of Shittim therefore, is the symbolic portrait of the Lord
Jesus Christ's coming out of the sinful nation Israel to begin His public ministry.
Her sin was greater than that of the nations, for she had rejected truth that
hadn't been revealed to them. Her sin
was that of deliberate commission, as it were; theirs, of ignorance.
It is to be noted that the symbolic picture presented in this chapter is not
of Christ's incarnation, but of the beginning of His public ministry and His going
out to Calvary. He went out from the
midst of the sinful nation, first to witness against their sin, and then to die at
their hand. He went out from what
Shittim here represents: a sinful people.
Their going out secretly
adds another detail to the symbolic picture. As
no one knew what they were doing, neither did anyone (not even His disciples) know
what the Lord was doing when He went out to Calvary.
Jericho meaning place
of fragrance, was also known as the city of palm trees, and the palm speaks of
righteousness, see Ps 92:12. Scripture,
however, speaks of a fragrance of life, and also of death, see 2 Co 2:16.
Jericho is a picture of the world. To
man it is the fragrance of life, and of righteousness according to man's standards;
but to God the smell of death pervades this scene, and all man's vaunted
righteousness is as filthy rags in His sight, see Isa 64:6.
Jericho is a very accurate picture of this world.
In connection with their
coming into the house of Rahab the harlot, it is to be remembered that while the
religious leaders of the nation rejected the Lord, the harlots and publicans (the
sinners) received Him, as it is written, "For I am not come to call the
righteous, but sinners to repentance" (Mt 9:13), and again, "Verily I say
unto you ... the harlots go into the kingdom of God before you (the self-righteous
Jewish leaders)" (Mt 21:31). It is
this that is being declared symbolically in Rahab's receiving the spies into her
Rahab has two meanings: as
a synonym for Egypt it means arrogance, but in the present context it means breadth. The believers, of whom she is a type, are also associated with
breadth, for they have been set free from the confines of their bondage to sin,
Satan, and death, and have been brought out into the glorious liberty of the sons of
God, possessing His own eternal life.
"And it was told the king of Jericho, saying, Behold, there came men in
hither tonight of the children of Israel to search out the country."
"And the king of Jericho sent unto Rahab, saying, Bring forth the men
that are come to thee, which are entered into thine house: for they be come to search
out all the country."
Like every evil king in
Scripture, this king of Jericho is a type of Satan, the prince of this world; and
while certainly we may see in his activity a foreshadowing of the murderous activity
of Herod at the time of Christ's birth, the context indicates that what is recorded
here points to the activity of Satan particularly in connection with the Lord's
public ministry and atoning death. As
the king of Jericho demanded that Rahab deliver up the two spies who had been seen
entering her house, so did Satan seek to entice or compel those early believers to
renounce their faith in Christ. He
continues that same evil work today.
The statement, "...
for they be come to search out all the country," is the symbolic announcement of
the truth that Satan knew all too well that Christ's coming was to conquer his
"And the woman took the two men, and hid them, and said thus, There came
men unto me, but I wist not whence they were:"
"And it came to pass about the time of shutting of the gate, when it was
dark, that the men went out: whither the men went I wot not: pursue after them
quickly; for ye shall overtake them."
Her taking the two spies
and hiding them is the symbolic portrait of a sinner trusting in the Lord Jesus
Christ as Savior. She represents both an
individual believer, and the believing remnant of Israel which became the Church.
Her dissimulation may not be taken to justify lying, even to those who are the
enemies of Christ, but rather to remind us that believers are all too capable of
sinning. Reception of the new nature
doesn't banish the old. It remains with
us, ready to use every opportunity to lead us into sin.
"But she had brought them up to the roof of the house, and hid them with
the stalks of flax, which she had laid in order upon the roof."
The roof of the house was
the place where the family went for relaxation from the ordinary cares of the day.
It was also the place where Peter had gone to pray, and where he received the
vision of the great sheet let down from heaven, Ac 10:9-12.
The roof or house top, in a good context, therefore represents separation from
the things of the world, that spiritual separation unto God making it possible for
Him to share His counsel with us, and to teach us His truth.
Another thing which points
to good in connection with Rahab's having hidden the two spies on her roof top was
the fact that there she had concealed them under stalks of flax which she had
arranged in order. Flax is the plant from which linen is produced, and linen is a
Biblical symbol of righteousness. Those
stalks arranged "in order" are the typological picture of the consistent
righteousness which is produced in the life that is lived in obedience to God's Word. It is His desire that the truths symbolically associated with
Rahab's roof should be made good in the practical experience of every believer.
"And the men pursued after them the way to Jordan unto the fords: and as
soon as they which pursued after them were gone out, they shut the gate."
The enemies' pursuit of
the two Israelites "to Jordan," the river which speaks of death, is the
symbolic reminder that the warfare between the flesh and the spirit is life-long.
It will cease only when we enter heaven.
That it can't follow us into heaven is declared in the fact that the pursuers
didn't cross the Jordan.
The shutting of the gate
behind the pursuers depicts the folly of man in attempting to circumvent the purposes
of God. It is the height of madness to
be found numbered amongst His enemies. When
His time came to destroy Jericho He didn't have to slip in through an open gate: He
caused the walls of the city to fall! The
knowledge that such a God is ours ought to deliver every believer from anxiety
relative to anything, as it is written, "If God be for us who can be against
us?" (Ro 8:31).
"And before they were laid down, she came up unto them upon the
Since the two men
represent the Lord Jesus Christ, a practical lesson being taught in her coming up
unto them on the roof before they went asleep, is that we too would be well advised
to end each day with time on "the roof," that is, time alone with God.
"And she said unto the men, I know that the Lord hath given you the land,
and that your terror is fallen upon us, and that all the inhabitants of the land
faint because of you."
She was convinced that
Jehovah was greater than all the other so-called gods, and that none could hope to
stand against Him. She feared Him, as
did all the inhabitants of the land, but her fear led her to cast herself upon His
mercy, while that of the others led them to fight against Him.
Many a man has been made to tremble (Felix, for example), but the fear that
doesn't impel the sinner to cast himself upon God's mercy, will not keep his soul out
of hell. The fear that doesn't lead to
repentant faith is worthless. A truth
largely rejected today, however, is that there can be no conversion apart from at
least some measure of fear.
"For we have heard how the Lord dried up the water of the Red sea for
you, when ye came out of Egypt; and what ye did unto the two kings of the Amorites,
that were on the other side Jordan, Sihon and Og, whom ye utterly destroyed."
What she had heard about Jehovah had impressed her with the
fact that to contend with Him was futile, and that her only hope of salvation lay in
casting herself on His mercy. The Gospel
has done its intended work when it produces the same results in the heart of a
sinner, leading to faith in the Lord Jesus Christ as Savior.
The Amorites sayers,
represent false professors. The city of Sihon was Heshbon meaning device: reason,
which speaks clearly of the natural man's schemes and reasoning.
As the people and the city ruled by Sihon the enemy of Israel, they combine to
warn believers that false profession and human reasoning or intelligence are the foe
of those who are of the household of faith. The meaning of Sihon sweeping or scraping away is the
symbolic warning that the evils portrayed by his people and city are capable of
sweeping away, destroying the believers' testimony and their enjoyment of their
spiritual inheritance. As Israel was to
make war with this enemy and dispossess him, so are we to actively oppose the
spiritual evils they represent.
Og means hearth-cake,
and in a good connotation the hearth speaks of humility; and cake, of spiritual food;
but since this king is the enemy of Israel, the meaning of his name represents
something evil, the hearth pointing to earthiness; and cake, not to wholesome
spiritual food, but to false doctrine. Since
he is allied with Sihon who represents the schemes and devices of mere corrupt human
wisdom, he appears to portray the earthy nature of that wisdom, in regard to which
James says, "This wisdom descendeth not from above, but is earthly, sensual,
devilish" Jas 3:15.
"As soon as we had heard these things, our hearts did melt, neither did
there remain any more courage in any man, because of you: for the Lord your God, he
is God in heaven above, and in earth beneath."
Their hearts might melt,
and their courage fail, but at that point only Rahab had the wisdom to seek God's
mercy, and by that submission she saved her life; and so is it still: only those who
fear God and seek His mercy are saved.
"Now therefore, I pray you, swear unto me by the Lord, since I have
shewed you kindness, that ye will also shew kindness unto my father's house, and give
me a true token:"
"And that ye will save alive my father, and my mother, and my brethren,
and my sisters, and all that they have, and deliver our lives from death."
As she believed the two
men to be the representatives of Jehovah, and accepted their word as His, so must
those who would be saved accept as His representatives, and their word as His, those
who preach the Biblical Gospel. Nor may
we construe her appeal to her having shown them kindness, as teaching salvation by
works. All of Scripture refutes such
lies. Heb 11:31 declares, "By faith
the harlot Rahab perished not with them that believed not, when she had
received the spies with peace," but James 2:25-26 explains the significance of
her good works, "Likewise also was not Rahab the harlot justified by works, when
she had received the messengers, and had sent them out another way?
For as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is dead
also." Her good works were the
evidence of her inward faith, and so is it with every believer. If the good works are not impelled by faith in Christ as Savior,
and as an expression of gratitude for salvation already received in response to that
faith, then they are useless, for such a man's faith is in his own works, and not in
the Lord Jesus Christ.
This woman had also a
concern beyond her own salvation. She
had a deep desire to see her family also saved.
That same desire, and for the souls of all men, ought to characterize everyone
who grasps in even the smallest measure, the extent of his own indebtedness to God's
grace which is beyond comprehension.
"And the men answered her, Our life for yours, if ye utter not this our
business. And it shall be, when the Lord
hath given us the land, that we will deal kindly and truly with thee."
The knowledge that these
men are a type of Christ, invests with a deeper significance their words "Our
life for yours," for that is a summation of the Gospel.
Believers are saved because Christ has given His life for theirs.
expectation of returning as conquerors enhances the typological picture, for the Lord
Jesus Christ repeatedly emphasized that He would return in power and glory to reign. As they that night were hunted for their lives, so was He at His
first advent; but as they returned to rule, so will He.
"Then she let them down by a cord through the window: for her house was
upon the town wall, and she dwelt upon the wall."
In this unique mode of
departure from the city - through a window, rather than a door, and by means of a
scarlet thread (line, rope) - we have the symbolic portrait of the Lord's death. It too was unique in that he voluntarily laid down His life as a
ransom for men's souls, shedding His precious blood (portrayed in the scarlet line)
for the remission of their sins. And
their departure by night adds the further symbolic detail that the Lord's departure
from this world was also in the context of darkness: the pall that shrouded the earth
from the sixth to the ninth hour.
The fact that her house
was on the wall, and its being emphasized that "she dwelt upon the wall,"
combine to declare the ideal position of the believer relative to this world.
He is in it, but he is no longer of it. He
dwells metaphorically on its outer edge, on the wall, as it were, his involvement in
its affairs being no more than are absolutely necessary to earn his living, and to be
a witness for the Lord Whose return he anticipates with eager hope, for there can be
no question that Rahab's remaining days in doomed Jericho were spent in eager
expectation of the two men's return to take her out of it.
"And she said unto them, Get you to the mountain, lest the pursuers meet
you; and hide yourselves there three days, until the pursuers be returned: and
afterward may ye go your way."
Only the spiritually blind
will fail to see in this the detail that authenticates the typological picture we
have been considering. Those three days
hidden on the mountain represent the three days and nights of the Lord's entombment.
"And the men said unto her, We will be blameless of this thine oath which
thou hast made us swear."
"Behold, when we come into the land, thou shalt bind this line of scarlet
thread in the window which thou didst let us down by: and thou shalt bring thy
father, and thy mother, and thy brethren, and all thy father's household, home unto
Here we find the assurance
that man has responsibility relative to his salvation.
Rahab's life depended on her willingness to believe the men, and to
demonstrate her belief by obeying them relative to the scarlet rope, just as on the
night of the Passover the life of the firstborn was secured by faith to believe God's
word, and to demonstrate that faith by obeying His word relative to the application
of the blood in the manner He had prescribed. Nothing
but faith in Christ delivered for my offenses, and raised again for my justification,
will save my soul, my obedience being the evidence of my faith.
A lip profession of faith, without an obedient life, doesn't meet the
Scriptural criterion of conversion, and he who has only such a profession as his hope
of entering heaven should tremble at the thought of meeting God.
The fact of human
responsibility is further confirmed by the fact that those of her family who would be
saved must come into her house, and clearly only those who also believed the word of
the spies as related to them by Rahab, would do so.
Their leaving their own houses and entering hers, demonstrated whether they
did in fact believe the men's word.
"And it shall be, that whosoever shall go out of the doors of thy house
into the street, his blood shall be upon his head, and we will be guiltless: and
whosoever shall be with thee in the house, his blood shall be on our head, if any
hand be upon him."
This confirms that Rahab
is a type, not only of the believing remnant of Israel, but also of the Church, for
as only those in her house would be saved, so will only those in the Church be saved,
entry into the Church being only through faith in the Lord Jesus Christ as Savior.
It is to be noted that the same condition applied on the night of the
Passover. Those within the
blood-sheltered houses (types of local churches, each of which is a part of the
Church which is Christ's body) were forbidden to go out of the houses until the
morning light, their departure in the morning being a type of the rapture of the
Church, as is also the removal of those in Rahab's house before the destruction of
"And if thou utter this our business, then we will be quit of thine oath
which thou hast made us to swear."
The significance of this
command is easily read. Her betrayal of
them would have been incontrovertible evidence that she lacked the faith to believe
them; but since they are a type of Christ, such unbelief would have been a type or
figure of the unbelief that refuses to trust Him as Savior.
"And she said, According unto your words, so be it.
And she sent them away, and they departed: and she bound the scarlet line in
It is instructive to note
that in verse 18 she had been required to bind the scarlet rope in the window only
when they came back into the land, but she placed it there the moment they departed,
and in this we find the announcement of truth relative to the Lord's return. As she didn't know the exact time when the men would return to
take her out of the doomed city, neither do we know the exact time of the Lord's
coming to take His Church out of this doomed world; but since her hope centered on
that scarlet rope (symbol of the blood of Christ), she placed it in the window
immediately, thus signifying her readiness to leave from the moment they left her
house. This is the symbolic portrait of God's ideal for every believer.
We should be ready to leave this world from the first moment we trusted the
Lord Jesus Christ as Savior. Sadly,
there are many professing Christians who are in no hurry to leave. Love of this world causes them to secretly hope that the Lord will
delay His coming as long as possible so that they will have more time to enjoy its
sinful pleasures. Rahab was not such a
believer. After having the assurance of
salvation, her only interest in doomed Jericho was to gather her family into the
safety of her house. He is a wise man
who reflects her attitude, and emulates her conduct.
"And they went, and came unto the mountain, and abode there three days,
until the pursuers were returned: and the pursuers sought them throughout all the
way, but found them not."
As already noted, their
hiding on the mountain for three days foreshadows the time the Lord's body lay in the
"So the two men returned, and descended from the mountain, and passed
over (the Jordan), and came to Joshua the son of Nun, and told him all things that
Since Jordan represents
death, their crossing it to come into the land represents Christ's death (when He
came into this world it was to die); but this return crossing, then by the same token
represents His resurrection, while their coming to Joshua portrays His return to His
"And they said unto Joshua, Truly the Lord hath delivered into our hands
all the land; for even all the inhabitants of the country do faint because of
Their confidence of
victory points to the truth that the Lord Jesus Christ, having completed the great
work of redemption, is now in heaven while the Father makes preparation for Him to
return to earth, not now as the Lamb, but as the mighty Lion of Judah, to vanquish
all His foes, and rule the world for His Father's glory in the Millennium.
In concluding our study of
this chapter, we should remember that Rahab is a type both of the individual
believer, and of the believing remnant in every age, existing in the midst of general
apostasy. As well as being a type of the
remnant which became the nucleus of the Church, she symbolizes the believing remnant
existing today as the true Church in the midst of apostate Christendom, and also the
believing remnant that will exist in the Tribulation era, and that will become the
new nation Israel which will pass into the Millennium and be chief among the nations.
We mention this in anticipation of our study of chapter six where her removal
from the city prior to its destruction is very clearly a type of the rapture of the
Church before the Tribulation begins.